How Russians celebrate New Year

Unlike Russian Christmas, which is celebrated on 7 January instead of 25 December, Russian New Year is also celebrated on 1 January.

This may sound like a funny or even foolish fact, but it’s actually not that obvious. Before the Gregorian calendar was adopted in 1918, New Year was also celebrated two weeks later in Russia, on 14 January. Nowadays it is still informally observed on that date and so Russians have in fact two New Years: the Old New Year and the New New Year.

The New New Year is the first day of the Russian 10-day winter break. It’s usually a family holiday, much like Christmas for many Europeans or Americans. Traditional dishes include the following:

Olivier salad, containing potatoes, vegetables, eggs, meat, and mayonnaise:

Olivier Salad

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Find a great vegan recipe for Olivier salad here.

‘Shuba’ or ‘herring under a fur coat’, a layered salad composed of diced salted herring covered with layers of grated boiled vegetables (potatoes, carrots, and beet roots), chopped onions, and mayonnaise.


Picture taken from

Find a great vegan recipe for Shuba here.

… and of course sparkling wine. Did you know Russia produces its own? One of the oldest (dating back to 1870) and most famous producers is Abrau Durso, located on the shores of lake Abrau, a short distance west of Novorossiysk on Russia’s black sea coast.


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Ten to fifteen minutes before midnight, all Russian switch on their TV to watch president Putin’s address, which is broadcast right before 12 o’clock. Afterwards, the Kremlin’s clock tower is shown and count-down can begin. When the clock strikes midnight, fireworks are lit and people congratulate each other and exchange presents.

These presents are delivered not by Santa Claus, but by his Russian equivalent: Ded Moroz or Father Frost. He dresses in blue, not red, and he travels in a sleigh (called ‘troika’) pulled by three horses. He is accompanied by his grand-daughter Snegurochka, the Snow Maiden.

Ded Moroz

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Unfortunately we won’t get to experience a real Russian New Year’s celebration this year, as we’re back in Belgium for the holidays. But we brought a bit of Russia to Belgium: some of our gifts for friends and family included Russian sparkling wine and cute Ded Moroz dolls filled with candy. And we might even watch Putin’s speech at 10 o’clock 😉

Wherever in the world you are and however you’ll be celebrating tonight, I wish you a fun evening and all the best for 2016! С Новым годом!


4 thoughts on “How Russians celebrate New Year”

  1. Gelukkig Nieuwjaar, Russische Belgen! Jullie zijn op tijd terug ginder om het oude nieuwjaar te vieren!
    Mooie kerstman, bijna zo mooi als de meneer waarmee ik op de foto ging in Moskou!

    Liked by 1 person

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